How do the best-shape-of-their-life guys end up performing?

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Fun stuff from Dave Cameron, as he went back and tracked all of the players who were referred to as being “in the best shape of their lives” last February to see how they performed in 2010. The results:

So, what can we conclude from the position player side of “The Best Shape Of Their Lives” group? It’s just one season of 17 different players, so it is nothing like an exhaustive study, but there doesn’t appear to be strong evidence that it is a significant predictor of a strong season on the way. These guys did slightly better than expected, but the overall bump was small, and it almost entirely disappears if you remove Miguel Cabrera’s sobriety from the sample.

I’m torn. If these results become widely known, writers may stop describing players as being in the best shape of their life, and that would take away a good 20% of my posts between December and March.  On the other hand, to the extent a couple still continue to use the practice, it’s now-proven lack of merit renders the whole exercise even more hilarious than it used to be when the matter was uncertain.

(thanks to Lukeheart80 for the heads up)

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.